Shapiro plan will move standardized tests for Pennsylvania students online by 2026 • Pennsylvania Capital-Star

Gov. Josh Shapiro announced Thursday that the state Department of Education will begin a two-year plan to move online the required standardized tests that Pennsylvania public school students take every year, with focus on “less testing and more learning.”

Shapiro made the announcement at Northgate Middle School in Allegheny County, where he met with students and faculty. He said administering the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and the Keystone Exams in classrooms creates a “huge burden” on students and teachers.

“These changes will result in a reduction in the amount of time students need to spend on standardized testing by about 30 minutes per test,” Shapiro said. “That’s a lot of time to be reclaimed for students that need to take tests on multiple subjects in one year.”

Northgate is one of the 32% of schools across the commonwealth that already provide tests online, Shapiro said. “We know that students today do a ton of interactive learning on their computers, and online assessments actually do a better job of matching how they learn,” he said. Moving the tests online would also let students who may need extra accommodations to do so more discreetly.

The PSSAs and Keystones have traditionally been administered via paper booklets and students take them by hand, which Shapiro said means they take longer to score. The tests are intended to measure students’ proficiency in English language arts, math, and science and technology, and are required by state and federal law. 

Shapiro added he would prefer to do away with the tests altogether, but that it would cost the state $600 million in federal funding. 

“We can’t afford to take that amount of money out of the system by doing away with standardized tests while the federal government still requires it,” he said. “But we are working with our federal partners to see what we can do to ease the requirements on states. And trust me, the moment that they provide some easing of those requirements we will ease them as well here in Pennsylvania.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro meets Carrie Wynn, an 11th grader at Northgate High School, April 18, 2024 (Commonwealth Media Service photo)

The plan calls for the state to migrate PSSA and Keystone testing online by 2026. 

“While Pennsylvania is among a group of states that take a relatively minimalist approach to statewide standardized testing and administers only the minimum number of assessments required by federal law, we have listened to feedback from the field and the public and have responded with a plan that will benefit schools, educators, and Pennsylvania’s 1.7 million learners,” Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin said.

In addition to bringing the tests online, Shapiro said the state plans to format the questions in ways students are already familiar with, such as drag and drop, and will develop a free, optional benchmark assessment tool for schools to have a more complete picture of students’ readiness for end-of-year exams. 

Paper-and-pencil versions of the tests will remain available for students who need additional accommodations.

Shapiro’s office estimated the state could save $6.5 million annually once the new plan is implemented, and will save more than 85 million printed pages each year. Schools will also be able to receive students’ test results more quickly, as opposed to the current system which delivers scoring reports throughout the summer, which can make decisions about how to allocate resources and course content more difficult.

Carrie Wynn, an 11th grade student at Northgate High School, said the online versions of standardized tests have made the daunting exams less stressful. “I cannot stand here today and say that moving to online testing has made me more excited for testing,” Wynn said Thursday. “But it was not the nerve-wracking change that I had anticipated. In fact, it was more similar to the way we learned in class than the old paper tests.”

Originally published at,by Kim Lyons

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